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Biomarker Profiles Shown to Improve Ovarian Cancer Survival

DNA illustration

(National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, NIH)

14 March 2016. A clinical trial of people with ovarian cancer shows patients receiving treatments matching their particular molecular profiles survived an average of 9 months longer than those receiving one or more drugs not matching their biomarkers. Results of the study, conducted by Caris Life Sciences at 6 cancer care hospitals in the U.S. and Australia, appear in the March 2016 issue of the journal Oncotarget.

Caris provides a service called molecular intelligence that analyzes the genomic composition of tumors from cancer patients, and compares the results with data from clinical studies to provide their doctors with treatment recommendations best fitting the patients’ tumor profiles. The Irving, Texas company says it has more than 80,000 such tumor profiles in its databases drawn from DNA sequencing, analysis of protein expression, and bioinformatic algorithms associating biomarkers with FDA approved drugs and therapies.

The study team sampled 224 patients from one of its databases, the Caris Molecular Intelligence Registry that collects data on diagnosis and treatment, as well as demographics and quality of life of solid cancer patients, in addition to their molecular profiles. The patients in this case had advanced (stage 3 or 4), epithelial ovarian cancer, where tumors form in the tissue layer covering the ovary or lining the fallopian tube or peritoneum.

In this study, researchers divided the sample into two groups: (1) 121 patients who received only treatments that matched their individual molecular profiles, thus receiving drugs considered benefiting their condition, and (2) 103 individuals receiving at least one other drug or treatment not matching their profiles or providing no benefit addressing their disorders.

The team tracked the ovarian cancer patients over time, and discovered individuals receiving treatments targeted for their biomarker profiles survived an average of 36 months from the time of tumor profiling, compared to an average overall survival time of 27 months for those receiving treatments not matching their profiles. The result also show patients receiving drugs other than those precisely matching their profiles generally experienced more treatments than individuals receiving only drugs matching their molecular profiles.

The authors caution that retrospective studies of this kind sometimes contain biases that result from selection not being randomized. The findings and conclusions, say the researchers, need to be validated in further retrospective studies and with larger samples.

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